The main focus when discussing floods or flood zones is usually New Jersey's coastline and those living alongside the Atlantic Ocean, but the bigger threat is elsewhere, according to experts in the field.

New Jersey's back bay communities are at a larger risk of "inundation," and the problem is only getting worse.

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"They are susceptible to the rising sea level that is ongoing and will be ongoing," said Dr. Michael Kennish, a research professor with the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University. "By 2050, we're looking at a sea level rise that could be as much as 22 inches."

The current sea level rise rate in New Jersey is 3 to 4 milliliters per year, but the rate is expected to increase as time goes on.

"Even for a one-foot rise in sea level, we would lose about 10,000 acres of New Jersey's bayshore area," Kennish added.

Combine that threat with the occurrence of more extreme storms, and the lack of updated protections and infrastructure, and one would conclude the future of nearby land and development is in question. Some housing has even been constructed on marsh systems.

Unlike the oceanfront, Kennish noted, New Jersey's back bay areas wouldn't allow a uniform dune system for protection, simply because of their irregular terrain. Meanwhile, current bulkheads have proven to be inadequate when battling the smallest storms.

Problematic flooding has become an issue during routine, small rainfall events. Superstorm Sandy, a completely different animal, still has thousands displaced from their homes in Ocean County.

"We have to come up with strategies of how we're going to offset susceptibility to flooding in the future," Kennish said. "The optimum may be to retreat from those areas that are most threatened, in order to protect the life and the property."

Less extreme measures suggested by Kennish include elevating homes, increasing the height of bulkheads, improving the performance of stormwater drainage systems, employing flood walls or mobile barriers, and installing more porous pavements in the area.

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